bookleteer blog

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Bookleteer’s 10th Anniversary

October 2nd, 2019 by gileslane
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10 years ago, in early September 2009, Proboscis launched bookleteer and enabled a new approach to making and sharing publications. It combined a simple method for uploading content and generating booklets in our Diffusion eBook formats (originally designed and launched in 2000), as well as our StoryCubes format (originally designed in 2005).

Over the past decade we’ve run a variety of workshops and engagement projects using bookleteer and its publishing formats to enable people to make and share things they value, both here in the UK and abroad. We’ve collaborated with research and academic partners (including museums and libraries) to devise practical toolkits for social and cultural action; as well as creating methods of sharing knowledge, discoveries and experiences outside the usual channels for public dissemination.

Bookleteer has become the foundation for a whole new way for local communities to develop their own self-publishing cultures, such as our work with Reite people in Papua New Guinea on the TKRN project.

There’s still plenty more to be achieved in the next decade…

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Inspired by Caribou

September 14th, 2019 by gileslane
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Canadian artist Joyce Majiski has published another stunning book of artworks, this time, as the eponymous title suggests, inspired by caribou (reindeer). These are the Porcupine Caribou herd – the keystone species that roams across Northern Canada and Alaska – which she has encountered several times in the Ivvavik National Park in the northern Yukon.

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A Field Guide to People Centric Practices

September 14th, 2019 by gileslane
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A booklet of personal reflections, by Giles Lane, on what a set of principles for working from a people-centric perspective might be.

People centric practice implies not just a human centred approach, but one which encompasses the whole context in which we live and work, and impacts on other creatures and lifeforms that are part of such environments – the more-than-human world. It addresses the whole ecologies of which we are part, on upon which we depend for our very existence. People does not have to mean exclusively human – we might consider other species (trees, birds, mammals etc) as peoples, as some indigenous humans have done, since they constitute their own societies and ways of being in the world. All have as much right to life as each other, it is only human hubris which champions our right to own and exploit everything else as paramount.

The booklet brings together, in a simple way, a set of principles and guides for working based on empathy, common sense, trust and agency. It is centred on establishing and following an ethos – through listening and responding, trusting and being trusted; anticipating consequences and reflecting on what you do. It adds into the mix principles for building trust borrowed from Baroness Onora O’Neill’s 2002 Reith Lectures, as well as the Precautionary Principle, Duty of Care and the Nolan Principles of Public Life. It also includes personal values: passion, intensity, intimacy, pleasure, obligation, responsibility, culpability.

Download on bookleteer, or read the online version.

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A Cabinet of Alchemical Curiosities

June 10th, 2019 by gileslane
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Long-time bookleteer, artist Joyce Majiski, has created a new book of postcards exchanged between herself and artist Zea Morvitz during 2014. Its an exquisitely illustrated collaboration across both time and space – Joyce lives in the Yukon, Canada, and Zea lives in Point Reyes, California. The book is part of a current exhibition of their work, “The Art of Staying in Touch” at Sometimes Books in Point Reyes California. See more images of the exhibition on Joyce’s Tumblr.

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UnBias Fairness Toolkit Handbook

September 14th, 2018 by gileslane
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Proboscis has been working on a research project about algorithms, bias, trust and fairness with the University of Oxford, Horizon Digital Economy Institute (University of Nottingham) and the University of Edinburgh since September 2016. Our role has been to develop a “Fairness Toolkit” intended to stimulate awareness of these issues and to provide mechanisms for people to share their concerns and hopes, as well as for industry stakeholders (IT professionals, policymakers, regulators, activists, researchers etc) to respond, triggering a ‘public, civic dialogue’ about “our future internet, free and fair for all”.

The UnBias Fairness Toolkit is now available and free to download – you can read all about it in the Handbook below:

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Haitian Booklets

July 10th, 2018 by gileslane
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A recent photo from Haiti showing local people at a rural clinic holding out their personal cancer awareness notebooks as part of a cervical cancer screening programme.

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Phantom Tomes at the British Library

November 4th, 2017 by gileslane
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Phantom Tomes and bookleteer were among a number of projects invited to present at the British Library Labs Symposium on Monday October 30th:

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Storymaking, fictional books & reworked covers

October 12th, 2017 by gileslane
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I’ve just completed a personal project in collaboration with my daughter Clara – Phantom Tomes, a book of imaginary titles cunningly reworked onto Victorian book covers sourced from the British Library‘s wonderful digital collection of public domain images. The book invites its readers to elaborate on the book titles by imagining their own publisher’s “blurb” or writing a review of the imaginary book. Each book cover has a blank page beside it purposefully for this storymaking task. As ever, the project is intended to inspire others to build upon our work and create their own versions of the activity, devising their own titles, covers and use of bookleteer as a simple and convenient way to share their creativity.

The titles are much inspired by the fantastic works of Edward Gorey and by long and venerable tradition of fictional books imagined by some of literature’s greats: Laurence Sterne, Jorge Luis Borges, Ursula LeGuin, Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino, Georges Perec & Stanislav Lem among many others.

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Health Awareness in Haiti

June 15th, 2017 by gileslane
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Over the past couple of years Grace Tillyard has been leading a groundbreaking project to enhance breast cancer awareness in Haitian women and their communities. The project has been hosted by NGO Innovating Health International and funded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and Pfizer.

As part of this project, Grace has co-developed with local people an information booklet and a Patient Notebook using bookleteer to help communicate more about the condition and the medical treatments available, as well as to allow people to record their own medical information in a dedicated book of their own. A second book covering cervical cancer has also been produced. Recently the United Nations Populations Fund have been instrumental in enabling IHI to print around 15,000 copies of each of the information books for distribution to communities across Haiti.

A Kreyol (Haitian Creole) version of the book folding instructions is also now available (see below).

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book_folding_instructions-kreyol

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Fully Operational Again

April 28th, 2017 by gileslane
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With many apologies for the long disruption from being able to generate new eBooks and StoryCubes, I am hugely pleased to announce that bookleteer is fully operational once more.

An unplanned server upgrade caused a cascade of problems deep in the core of the Generator, the software that does the actual hard work of taking your content and flowing it into the Diffusion eBook and StoryCube formats. It has taken considerable efforts by Joe Flintham, bookleteer’s principal developer with the forensic brilliance of Yasir Assam, bookleteer’s original software developer, to analyse the root problem, fix it then chase down all the ensuing changes in dependencies.

Here are two fabulous new books created by Canadian artist Joyce Majiski, who has been one of bookleteer’s most prolific and exquisite users for many years:

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PDF Wranglers

February 23rd, 2016 by gileslane
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Recently I came across Smallpdf – a web service dedicated to all things PDF. They have a range of services which simplify creating PDFs, extracting them, manipulating them and compressing them. The service is free and very fast – and a worthy companion for anyone who struggles with compressing PDF files to a small size (without degrading image quality for print), merging PDF documents or extracting PDF pages. It has a very simple menu, doing what it says on the tin. Highly recommended for all bookleteers out there.

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Endings and Beginnings

February 2nd, 2016 by gileslane
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Last Autumn, after 3 years and much fun selecting and sending out fine publications made and shared on bookleteer, I decided to end the Periodical’s monthly service. There were a number of reasons – some practical and financial – but I felt that as a project it had achieved as much as it could in its existing form. At its height there were over 80 subscribers across the world. Something like 60 different books were distributed during the 3 years, and there will be a few more that will be sent out to the last subscribers later this year as part of the LibraryPress Legacy project.

Since many subscribers were keen for the project to continue I will be considering options – the most likely being a once yearly round-up. If you’re interested in subscribing to this, please leave a comment on this post to let me know.

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My work with anthropologist James Leach and the villagers of Reite in Papua New Guinea has defined much of my recent work with bookleteer and is shaping the trajectory of development in which it is heading. You can read about our fieldwork in PNG, about the TKRN project and the TKRN Toolkit or explore the lovely handmade books created by the community on the dedicated website I created for them. We are returning to Reite in April and May this year to do further work, and to expand the project into some neighbouring villages. We have also been invited to develop a parallel project with indigenous fieldworkers in the neighbouring island nation of Vanuatu. Later in 2016 we hope to facilitate some of the villagers from Reite to transfer their skills and knowledge of using the TKRN Toolkit to local people in Vanuatu.


This past year I have also been helping (in a small way) Grace Tillyard to develop her amazing Breast Cancer awareness and engagement programme for women in Haiti. The project is hosted by Project Medishare‘s Womens Health Centre in Port-au-Prince and recently received $60,000 in funding. Grace is currently co-developing with local people a new kind of Patient Notebook using bookleteer to help communicate more about the condition and the medical treatments available, as well as to allow people to record their own medical information in a dedicated book of their own. We hope to have a prototype ready this Spring for testing by the community.

LibraryPress Legacy
I have also been collaborating with Peter Baxter of Camden’s Library Service to extend and continue the work of introducing self-publishing using bookleteer into London’s libraries that was initiated in 2014 and 2015 through the LibraryPress project. Last week we held a professional development workshop for Librarians from Camden, Hackney, Brent, Hounslow and Harrow. Over the next few months the aim is for these librarians to use bookleteer to create publications with library users as part of the many events to promote reading and literacy that take place. We shall be selecting some of these to be printed and distributed as part of a special issue of the Periodical.

Lastly, I wish to share a stunning new book, Northern Musings, created by the Canadian artist and printmaker, Joyce Majiski:

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Magna Carta 800 Sets

February 2nd, 2016 by gileslane
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June 2015 was the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta – considered by many to be the keystone to Britain’s constitutional and democracy. To celebrate and see the impact this document has had, over six months in 2015 I published a series of 6 books, each containing several texts from across the centuries that have been inspired by the Magna Carta. From the English Civil War era, to the French and American Bills of Rights in the late 1700s, the Chartists of the 1830s though to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Charter88 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 2000. The final book in series contains Henry I’s Charter of Liberties (1100) on which the Magna Carta itself is based, the original 1215 Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forests of 1217.

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What the series shows is a lineage stretching back to Saxon times of the struggle to assert and protect the inherent rights and dignities of ordinary people against the attempts by the wealthy and powerful to control and corral resources, assets and power for themselves, at the expense of everyone else.

Originally distributed to subscribers of the Periodical there are 35 sets remaining, each of which has been bound together with red satin ribbon in a special edition.
Each set costs £15 plus postage and packing: buy your’s here.

View the whole collection here – free to read online or download, print out and make up yourself.

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the Periodical issue 33

June 8th, 2015 by gileslane
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June’s issue (no. 33) contains the final book in my series celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The culmination of this series contains the three foundations on which much of Britain’s constitutional fabric rests: Henry I’s Charter of Liberties which restored many of the ancient rights from the Saxon period, which had been usurped by his father and tyrannical brother William Rufus.
This provided much of the basis of the Magna Carta itself, issued by John at the behest of 25 English barons. Later versions issued by his son and grandson extended its protections to all freemen, not just the barons named in the original. Parts remain in statute even until today. Often overlooked, but much more significant for ordinary people, the Charter of the Forest was issued in 1217 by John’s son, Henry III (or rather, by his regent William Marshall). It reestablished the right to forage for food, collect firewood, graze animals in lands deemed Royal Forest. It remained in statute until repealed and replaced by the 1971 Wild Creatures and Forest Laws Act. As the book was being typeset the newly elected Tory government announced plans to replace the 1998 Human Rights Act with a new British Bill of Rights. Quite what this means remains to be seen.

If you’d like a complete set, we have a small limited edition available to buy here.

*** SUBSCRIBE TO THE PERIODICAL HERE ***
Like what you see here? Then treat yourself to something lovely – an enigmatic, eclectic package arriving through your letterbox each month. Or buy a gift subscription for someone special. Get inspired to create and share your own publications on bookleteer to take part too – each month I select something delightful and inspiring from the publications which are made and shared on bookleteer.

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the Periodical issue 32

May 22nd, 2015 by gileslane
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May’s issue (no. 32) contains the penultimate book in my series celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Thomas Paine’s pamphlets Common Sense and Agrarian Justice are part of his remarkable legacy of revolutionary, communitarian ideas. Reviled in his own day, the ideas contained in these texts such as the pension and basic income are as relevant today as they were radical then. Challenging both hereditary privilege to govern and ownership of land as pernicious perversions of natural law, Paine calls for systems of amelioration (rather than confiscation) to be established to recompense those born outside of privilege. His is a radical, yet nonviolent call for a revolution that seeks to benefit all, regardless of the station they were born to. It seems fitting then to place alongside them the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which I believe Paine would have approved of. A landmark achievement and a direct descendant of Magna Carta, it is part of the Post War Settlement which established in law in many countries, the inherent rights of individual human beings. As we grapple with the erosion of the Welfare State and national sovereignty in favour of corporations, the global rise in inequality, religious intolerance, state surveillance, suspension of civil liberties and other egregious acts, we do well to hold it dear, and fast.

*** SUBSCRIBE TO THE PERIODICAL HERE ***
Like what you see here? Then treat yourself to something lovely – an enigmatic, eclectic package arriving through your letterbox each month. Or buy a gift subscription for someone special. Get inspired to create and share your own publications on bookleteer to take part too – each month I select something delightful and inspiring from the publications which are made and shared on bookleteer.

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